Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Letters - GULF NEWS Dt 24 February 2010 - Nine killed in blaze at Bangalore high-rise office complex

My Letters - GULF NEWS Dt 24 February 2010 - Nine killed in blaze at Bangalore high-rise office complex

The deaths were caused either by choking in smoke or due to injuries suffered when some tried to jump from the seven-storey building, fire officials said.

Bangalore: Nine people died and around 50 were injured when fire broke out in a high-rise office complex in Bangalore on Tuesday. The deaths were caused either by choking in smoke or due to injuries suffered when some tried to jump from the seven-storey building, fire officials said.

"Nine - six men and three women - have died and around 50 are injured. The condition of seven injured is serious," D.G. Chengappa, director of fire services, told IANS.

The fire broke out in the fifth-floor office of an IT firm around 4 p.m., trapping several hundred people in the seven-storey Carlton Towers, an office and commercial complex on the busy old Airport Road in Bangalore's central business district.

Visuals caught on cell phones and telecast on TV channels showed a woman trying to jump to the sixth floor from the seventh, slipping and falling to the ground. Another showed a man jumping to the ground from the top floor.

It is feared they are among the nine dead.

Fire brigade officials said 16 fire tenders battled the fire for about an hour and all were evacuated after about two hours.

Inspector General of Police P.S. Sandhu told reporters at the site that the fire appeared to have started due to electrical short circuiting.

People broke open glass panes with bare hands and any other material they could lay hands on to let out the smoke.

Dozens of office-goers were seen coughing as they were caught in the smoke.

Rescue hindered

Rescue operations were hindered as hundreds of people gathered on the busy street restricting the free movement of fire brigade vehicles and fire personnel.

Sandhu said the narrow road and the evening hour traffic did cause a delay in fire tenders reaching the site of the blaze.

To read this article in original, please visit GULF NEWS ONLINE

My comments as follows:

I refer to the above news item. It was one of the most horrific scenes I have witnessed on TV in the recent times. While I offer my prayers to all the victims of yesterday's fire at Bangalore, I wish to highlight this serious presence of mind issue during a crisis to our readers. In Bangalore, psychologists say it as the fight or flight response and call it as the acute stress response when a normal person loses his sense of balance and presence of mind. Eyewitnesses report that neither could they save them nor stop them from jumping, which we all watched on TV helplessly and horrendously. This situation can happen to anyone in a stressful situation. Let us take it as an opportunity to educate necessary life skills training in educational institutions and organizations. It is true that all of us do not have the presence of mind to handle every situation. Necessary life saving skills and presence of mind techniques should be made available to general public through TV and press to act safely and spontaneously in case of a safety or security situation such as this one that took life of many in Bangalore.

A debate or a news feature informing such techniques are highly appreciated through your column at the earliest for the benefit of our readers.

Sincere regards,
Ramesh Menon
GNRC Member

My Letters - GULF NEWS Dt 24 February 2010 - Strict Penalties

My Letters - GULF NEWS Dt 24 February 2010 - Strict Penalties
To read my letters to the news, please bookmark and visit Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Letters - Pakistani schools struggle to meet standards - THE NATIONAL - Dt 17 February 2010

My Letters - Pakistani schools struggle to meet standards - THE NATIONAL - Dt 17 February 2010

DUBAI // Two out of the three Pakistani-curriculum schools in Dubai are failing to meet minimum standards and no Indian or Pakistani schools received an outstanding rating according to a report released today by the emirate’s schools regulator.

The report includes the results of the first-ever inspections of Indian and Pakistani curriculum schools in Dubai, which enroll almost 60,000 pupils, about a third of the emirate’s student population. The schools were not included in the first round of school reports conducted in 2009.

The picture at Indian-curriculum schools is brighter: only about one in seven schools were judged unsatisfactory. By comparison, among the schools inspected last year – which included private and public schools teaching a variety of curricula – one in eight was deemed unsatisfactory.

Not a single school was found to be “outstanding”, the top score awarded by inspectors. Seven of the 20 Indian schools inspected achieved the second-highest mark, “good”, while another ten were deemed only “acceptable”. The single Pakistani school not judged “unsatisfactory” was also found to be “acceptable.”

Overall, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai has judged only four schools in Dubai “outstanding” — all of them high-priced private schools offering the British curriculum, with fees for grade 12 upwards of Dh50,000. The most expensive Indian school, Dubai Modern High School, which achieved a rating of “good”, currently charges Dh27,000.

The KHDA linked fee increases in private schools to their performance in the inspections last year. This year, however, the authority said it was working on a framework with the Ministry of Education that would help determine regulations for fee increases, instead of relying solely on the ratings.

The standard of Arabic instruction was one of the reasons schools were docked points that ultimately led to the lack of an outstanding rating, a situation mirrored in many private schools that were inspected last year.

Arabic education has recently become a priority for the KHDA.

Arabic teaching was unsatisfactory in a third of Indian schools, due to “weak teaching skills and insecure subject knowledge of teaching staff”. Some schools did not adhere to KHDA requirements relating to time allocated to teaching Arabic, and most do not have proper standards for teaching Arabic as a second language.

However, Indian schools performed well in their teaching of Islamic studies, with students demonstrating an “advanced knowledge and understanding of local traditions and culture”.

They also placed significant emphasis on environmental issues, but weak teaching plagued earlier levels.

Students generally demonstrated a strong desire for learning, and were “highly motivated and conscientious”, often excelling in English and mathematics.

To read this article in original, please visit THE NATIONAL online

My comments and suggestions as follows:

The preliminary news reports about the KHDA rating is looked at with interest by all parents. The significant increase in the school fees and the service provided by various groups and corporate establishments involved in educational sector and KHDA have to consider overall the economic situation prevailing in UAE and globally to impart good education with economically viable options available.

It is heartening to note that Indian schools and students performed well in Islamic studies, and placed significant emphasis on environmental issues, Mathematics and English. However, it highlighted weak teaching as one of the reason for the deterioration in rating level. This reason may be due to the anomaly existing in the salary level of the teaching staff, when compared with the other government schools and establishments, or even the school bus drivers and qualified candidates obviously opting for more lucrative jobs around.

Government and KHDA should consider economic concessions for schools in terms of free electricity, water, telephone connections, and free registration for school buses and subsidised fuel delivery options etc so that these operating costs could be cut down and adjusted in school budget for hikes in the salary of teaching staff and options for better educational facilities. These concessions may also give a leverage to think of reducing the increased school fees at least for some time till the current economy situation improves.

Looking forward to the detailed list of schools and their drawbacks that halted their progress to a better rating to get a clear picture for the parents about various schools in the region.


Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

My Letters - GULF NEWS - No outstanding Pakistani or Indian schools: KHDA - Dt 17 February 2010

My Letters - GULF NEWS - No outstanding Pakistani or Indian schools: KHDA - Dt 17 February 2010

Of the 23 schools inspected, seven were rated 'good', five were 'unsatisfactory' while two of the three Pakistani schools received 'unsatisfactory' grade

Dubai: No Indian and Pakistani schools have received an 'outstanding' grade upon the first Knowledge and Human Development Authority's (KHDA's) inspections.
Of the 23 schools inspected, seven were rated 'good', five were 'unsatisfactory' - two of the three Pakistani schools inspected received the 'unsatisfactory' grade.
A full 20-page report on individual schools will be available on the KHDA website on Thursday 18 February.

To read this news, please visit Gulf news Online

My Comments:

It is very surprising to note that none of the Indian or Pakistani schools got the Outstanding rating by KHDA. Especially as this list includes the schools run by the famous educators of the country, who owns several schools within UAE and also the Indian School series directed under the guidance of Embassies and consulates. What has happened to adherence of standard set by KHDA by these elite schools? Were they not prepared to match them or is it an eye opener to the readers that there exists several limitations and drawbacks which may or may not be complied upon by them as per the required regulations?. The detailed list of schools and their drawbacks, if any could be listed to reach the rating are eagerly awaited to get a clear picture for the parents.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Abu Dhabi parking fines to go on all night - Dt 16 February 2010

My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Abu Dhabi parking fines to go on all night - Dt 16 February 2010
Jen Gerson

Last Updated: February 15. 2010 11:05PM UAE / February 15. 2010 7:05PM GMT ABU DHABI // Drivers who use the cover of night to flout parking laws will soon find notices of fines posted to their windscreens.

The municipal Department of Transport (DoT) yesterday that it would enforce parking laws 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in lots governed by the Mawaqif scheme beginning on Sunday. Cars that park in the middle of the road and along non-designated kerbs will be targeted.

Motorists who park in legal spaces marked by kerbs painted either blue and black, or blue and white, can still park for free after 9pm and on Fridays.

The transport department said the stricter enforcement was to prevent roads being blocked during emergencies. During a fire on Hamdan Street in the Tourist Club area in December, two residents of an apartment block died after emergency personnel had to wait for residents to move their illegally parked vehicles before they could reach the burning building.

Last year the Mawaqif system began charging for parking in city blocks stretching along Hamdan Street, between Baniyas Street and Airport Road.

“The DoT is mandated to implement the parking law … We urge the public to make proper use of the available surface and underground parking facilities and not park illegally. Specifically in the spaces allocated for special needs or near a fire hydrant,” said Najib al Zarooni, general manager of the transport department’s parking programme.

The department said underground parking is often 25 to 30 per cent empty – and the rate is higher at night.

Under the Mawaqif system, drivers in paid zones are charged between Dh2 and Dh3 per hour. Residents must buy a Dh800 (US$215) annual permit.

The department is rolling out the Mawaqif system to most sections of the city in phases, and said the programme will add 75,000 spaces over two years. There are also plans to add multi-storey car parks to some of the city’s busiest areas.

The strategy has come under fire from local residents who say the pay scheme has merely shifted the downtown core’s daytime parking problem to sections of the city where parking is still free. Meanwhile, at night, they say they still face a dearth of legal spaces.

“It makes no sense to fine people, because at the end of the day you have no choice but to park illegally. The problem is that there are too many cars and not enough available parking,” said Mohamed Hussein, 35, an Egyptian science teacher. “Few buildings offer underground parking.”

He said he did park his car in the paid zone illegally. “Especially at night. I’ll take my chances.”

Mohamed Farhan, 39, a bank worker from Sri Lanka, said he lived just outside the paid parking zone and therefore did not qualify for the resident’s permit.

“I still have to park in the municipality parking but it’s expensive. It costs more than 400 [dirhams per month]. It used to be 350.”

He said he agreed with fining people who parked in the middle of the road, as they block traffic.

“But I do understand the plight of people, because parking is difficult.”

Even people with resident’s permits have a difficult time, said Prestina Carvalho, 38, a shipping company employee from India.

“Those who do have a resident’s permit have to go elsewhere and then they find a space but are charged to park.”

Resident’s permits are for lots closest to the driver’s home.

To read this in original, please visit THE NATIONAL online page.

My comments as follows:

At the outset, one can realize this objective of Municipal Department of Transport is intended to provide easy access to all the residential areas within the city limit and also have control and order to curb illegal parking in undesignated areas. However, the rates charged at the rate of Dhs 3/- per hour on the main areas and Dhs 2/- per hour on the backsides or less crowded areas seems to be on the higher side when compared to parking charges levied in other Emirates. In addition, there should be a uniformity in the implementation of paid parking timings within all the Emirates of UAE, as one find different timings and regulations in Dubai, Sharjah and now Abu Dhabi going on 24 hours. This creates confusion to visitors from other Emirates to the capital city, who may be ignorant of the 24 hours paid parking regulations within Abu Dhabi. The annual permit charge of 800 for one car seems to be nominal, but finding out a suitable parking even for one car nearer to each high rise building will definitely be a Herculean task for car owners with such permits.

Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Letters - GULF NEWS - Student clocks up Dh356,000 in speeding fines

My Letters - GULF NEWS - Student clocks up Dh356,000 in speeding fines

Dubai: A Saudi Arabian student has clocked up fines totaling more than Dh356,000, a traffic official said on Sunday.

The fines started being issued in early 2008 until the present day, and the student was issued with more fines on a daily basis, according to Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director, General Department of Traffic, Dubai Police.

Mostly issued for speeding, the student didn't take the 400 fines seriously, and consistently ignored them.

He was located and called into the Traffic Department, whereupon his vehicle and license were confiscated. He will have to pay Dh100,000 to release his vehicle.

To read the original news, please click here to visit Gulf News online

My online comments as follows:

Amazing to read this news. It is strange that there was no system to check and control his driving around until he accumulated such a huge fine. Well, he or rather his parents are generous to set aside a special budget for Traffic offense for their son. I am sure, there may be more such drivers around averaging either more or less his record. I hope the authorities do initiate a control measure to monitor fines getting accumulated to car registration plates and licenses and to put hold on their driving immediately and cease the cars and their licenses along with other measures to make sure he never sits behind the wheel here in UAE.

To read my letters to the news, please bookmark and visit Letters to the Editor

My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Joy for Afghanistan, heartbreak for UAE

My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Joy for Afghanistan, heartbreak for UAE

Dear Sirs,

My congratulations to the UAE Cricket team for their impressive performance at the Twenty 20 qualifier matches. The last two matches, i.e against Ireland and Afghanistan have been painful for the nations progress towards the journey to West Indies. However, the tournament has been an inspiring one for all the young aspiring members of ICC. I am sure, UAE team will take this experience along with them for their place in other big tournaments coming up.

For Afghanistan, well done and this is a gift to the nation and it's ordirnary citizen who are fighting a two pronged battle - on one side the terrorist and on the other side the peace keepers. They need a deserving ocassion and venue to cheer on something, and what more than their entry into world cricket.

Best regards,

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

To read the orginal article, please visit THE NATIONAL dated 14 February 2010

Thanks to authorities concerned - Lorries to take Sheikh Khalifa Bridge from Thursday

Thanks to authorities concerned - Lorries to take Sheikh Khalifa Bridge from Thursday

Lorries travelling between Musaffah and the Meena Port area will be banned from driving through the city centre, authorities said yesterday.

From Thursday, lorries coming from the industrial area should travel to the port area via the recently opened Sheikh Khalifa Bridge and vice versa, Abu Dhabi Municipality said. Those who break the rule will be fined, the authority said in a statement, though fine amounts were not disclosed.

A news in this regards has been published in THE NATIONAL dated 15 February 2010.

You may see below some effort made in this regard to reduce a traffic problem prevailed within the city.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Name is Khan - a review

My Name is Khan - a review

Movie: My Name Is Khan
Director: Karan Johar
Actors: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol

A movie which I went in with lots of expectation after the recent debate and action created by political and film personalities.

Shah Rukh Khan playing the lead role “Rizwan Khan” and Kajol as his partner.

Screenplay by Shibani Bhatija is interesting, however at times lagging and a test of patience.

The movie touches the 9/11 myths and tries to capitalise from the anti-muslim agenda emanating against all peace loving Muslims world-wide. Shah Rukh Khan in this movie, I believe is trying to project himself as a character actor and tries to justify the mannerism of patient with autism. He succeeds in it, and may be this is one of the projects where he tries to display a serious role oriented performance than his usual touch of humour here and there. After watching it, I felt, is this an attempt to project himself over Amir Khan as who is the best expressive actor in the field.

Kajol as Mandira, gave a graceful self and bring back the golden touch of beautiful presence and calibre of our beautiful actors of yester years. Her come back is really marvellous and classy.

The child artists Yuvaan Makaar who played as their son Sam (Sameer) played a commendable role in the movie and at times scored even better than both of them. Kudos to this little talent. Tanay Chadda as young SRK also did a great job.

Zarina Wahab as his mother in her short role was superb.

Nice music, especially the background scores and the Tabala beats for the songs Tere Naina, outstanding. It has also a well choreographed dance scene in which SRK trying to dance with his autism disabilities and the emotions projected throughout are excellent.

Sabu Cyril’s set created an outstanding effect of the flood and devastation scenes. However, it could have been a bit more realistically captured by thoughtful camera presentation.

Overall, the movie provides an interesting viewing although it does require lots of patience to sit through certain stages of it. Those who go to movies for pure entertainment purpose may stay out of it. This is a serious stuff and do convey messages to the society and the world around that human beings should not be treated according to religion and topographic orientation. Daring attempt by Sharukh Khan and Karan Johar for trying out something different this time than their usual projects.

Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi
11 Feb 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No News edition 21 - A journey from No to Yes

No News edition 21 - A journey from No to Yes

Dear Friends,

Welcome to read the 21st issue of No News.

It has been a long break since I touched the No News magazine. Although, I have been coming out to you through various other forms, this is one special section of my creativity which I cherish doing. It is similar to asking anyone interested in cricket about the beauty and enjoyment of playing and following a Test match. This gives me sufficiently large space to promote what I am promoting all the time in a detailed way than what I do every day. Of course, it all comes to certain small and mundane things of creativity, safety, social values or “whatever”, as someone could leisurely write and read off.

Inspire: No matter if the world stand still, continue with what I am doing. This is what I am trying to do these days. I do it from within, for my own enjoyment. As you see it, I do not do what I don’t enjoy and here is another edition of No News detailing those simple efforts in my own way.

I always believe that an individual’s life must benefit society. There should be some social purpose along with personal. Otherwise, according to me it remains meaningless. We are all in some way or another, blessed with worldly fortunes of different kind. Do not remain contended at that point.

During my journey carrying the Team 1 and Talent Share banners, I have faced several obstacles. However, I did not deter. What inspired me were some simple steps of encouragement or support from those whom I interact with. Like, the words of one of my friend, who calls me at the middle of the night and tells me, Ramesh, there is a problem with the check-in system at the airport. I have identified corrective solutions for it, and have taken pictures of the present conditions. Please help me to submit it to the right authorities, so that the conditions could be improved in future. Or my friend, who write to me with photos saying that in his area, there are no playgrounds for children. But there is an open space which could be converted to a small playground. How do we go about it? Or another one more interesting an sms from a friend – “I just remembered you when I’m sitting in the most “annoying” place where we feel ashamed to be an Indian – The Indian Consulate Dubai -. (those who have gone there will agree with him)…. These are inspiring gestures that shows that they silently acknowledge to a few of the constructive social efforts I have been diligently carrying out for the last few years. There are some others too, like my son, who takes away the small note pad and pencil I keep handy in my car, when he notices a traffic arrogance happening in front of our car, to note down the time, place and car details. Because for sure he knows, I would have already memorised even the smaller details of it for reporting. There are pros and cons to it, and I do always look from all the angles before coming out with an action, which I initiate to the well being for a larger group, whoever it may be.

Many times, small action leads to bigger joyous happening. One such event that is happening around is the Team 1 Talent Share birthday celebrations. A suggestion by one of the participating member taken in the right spirit by all members is bringing joy to several young members and their families. To the extent, it made me happy when I listened to a friend who told me a conversation that happened at his home the other day. He told me, “my son is very happy nowadays. Because all these years his birthday used to fall on school holidays, and now yesterday, when I came from office, he was excited to tell me – Dad, this year I am going to celebrate my birthday in a big way with my friends at Talent Share.” His words conveyed the sense of oneness prevailing there and a feeling of assurance that his share of small joy will be taken care in a bigger way by all the members of Talent Share. It is a kind of confidence built over the period of this selfless journey.

Yes, the journey began in a small and singular way is gaining momentum and reaching bigger and wider regions and masses. Many of the individual talent that remained within four walls are now common names. We all know their style, character and attitude and orientations. This is a sustained process and you will agree that it is not possible to reach this far without dedication. Creativity and that too at this pace does require a sense of devotion and that is what is exhibited regularly.

When I encourage and nurture these young ones, I do remember clearly my own childhood, the limitations, the good and bad, the limited opportunities and guidance pool available. I remember and remind myself very well – the journey of a little boy, who fumbled and responded in feeble voice those days when the cane weaving, cigarette smelling hands of his class teacher passes by. I do remember all the time, the little boy, who loved to listen to stories at night, sucking one thumb and playing ganchira with the other hand. Those are the rejuvenating thoughts for my never-ending spirit to nurture these young ones, each one of whom I cherish and carry along.

Create an attitude at heart with intentions of welfare and selflessness added to it. This is the prime thought when there is some action happening from my side. In our epics, stories indicate how man’s mind reacts to others’ happiness and sorrows. Instead of feeling jealous about others’ prosperity one should feel happy and join him in his success. Similarly, one should show concern when encountering others in distress and try to give them solace. While noticing someone drowning in a river one rushes to save him spontaneously without deliberating whether he is one’s friend or enemy. Likewise our heart must automatically sympathise with the distressed. Good fortune and happiness in this life is due to God’s grace and meant for sharing with others not for one’s edification only. Broadmindedness, concern for others and selflessness are virtues which should be inculcated in children from an early age. Man’s intellect has its limitations and he cannot know everything on his own or learn only from his experience. So, it is always good to look at elders or experienced for guidance and inspirations to mould one’s life to a suitable format. One should not have reservation about learning from others and in the realm of learning, age should not be a deterrent. History has shown several examples of elderly person seeking knowledge from young and mastering important values and virtues in the process.

Utilise your talent or knowledge without inhibition and if you have a good or bad experience, taking cue from this note, do take a few minutes of your time to share it either at Team 1 blogs or Talent Share Fan page. I look forward to your comments and feedbacks. I am presenting to you in this edition a short synopsis of what happened at Team 1 blogs and Talent Share Fan page recently.

God bless you all and have a great journey ahead.

Ramesh Menon
10 Feb 2010

To read the old issues of No News, please click here
or email me at
or become a member of Team 1 Talent Share google group

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Letters - Gulf News - Abdul Mugeeth, 8, recycles newspapers to make bags

My Letters - Gulf News - Abdul Mugeeth, 8, recycles newspapers to make bags

Abdul Mugeeth, 8, recycles newspapers to make bags
Gulf News, 5 Feb 2010

Dear all,

Congratulations to Abdul Mugeeth for setting a green example to all. These type of simple steps by children make an everlasting impact on elders. To help his article and all interested reades, it is very simple to make this handy paper bags. Kindly visit the link below which will give you simple steps to make it.

Best wishes to Gulf News and it's Community Solutions team.


Ramesh Menon
5 Feb 2010

Photo Speaks - KHALEEJ TIMES - UAE IN PICTURES - Bad weather

Photo Speaks - KHALEEJ TIMES - UAE IN PICTURES - Bad weather

Photo Speaks - Gulf News - Weather to remain cloudy

Photo Speaks - Gulf News - Weather to remain cloudy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Letters - GULF NEWS - Safety First - Dt 03 Feb 2010

My Letters - GULF NEWS - Safety First - Dt 03 Feb 2010

My reply to Mr. Sean Hickinson's letter, which was based on my community / photo feature titled "Exemplary Case of Safety Measures". (03 February 2010)

Mr. Sean Hickinson letter dated 29 January 2010 to my community/photo report titled "Exemplary Case of Safety Measures" dated 22 January 2010.

Note: It requires a dedicated and sustained effort to maintain safety and security. A close eye for observing the minute details, reporting of anomalies promptly, and then continous follow-up whether they listened and understood what was reported and what action was carried out to rectify any anomaly notified. Finally, safety and security is every one's responsibility. It is therefore importantant to handle it at all time with high priority.

Good wishes to all those who campaign for safety.

Ramesh Menon

03 February 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Woven back to life: the women reviving a traditional Bedouin craft Dt 30 Jan 2010

My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Woven back to life: the women reviving a traditional Bedouin craft Dt 30 Jan 2010

Once again the Saturday edition has come out with an interesting article promoting tradition, culture and heritage. It was very interesting to read through the experiences and expressions of the village craftswomen. Look forward to THE NATIONAL reaching more such corners, where others never explored. The article thus became a good curtain raiser for the forthcoming Abu Dhabi International Book Fair March 2nd to 7th at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.


Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi

To read the original article, please visit the following link at THE NATIONAL